German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Wednesday backed calls to negotiate the disputed Nord Stream 2 pipeline but warned that sanctions threatened by the United States would run afoul of international law.
“When it comes to the U.S. threat of sanctions, we in the German government have the clear position that these are not in accordance with international law,” she told DW.
The pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany, has proven a contentious issue in trans-Atlantic relations. Washington has been critical of the pipeline, with U.S. President Donald Trump last week warning that companies involved in the project would face U.S. penalties if they did not halt their work.
Washington, along with a number of Eastern European countries, argues that the pipeline will increase the European Union’s dependence on Russian energy.
The EU, meanwhile, has warned the U.S. not to impose sanctions and instead discuss the issue as allies. Kramp-Karrenbauer echoed that sentiment in an interview with DW on Wednesday.
“Nord Stream 2 is a project that is also being debated among European Union, as well as NATO member states,” she said. “There is concern that Germany could become too dependent on Russian gas, a concern we were able to defuse. But it’s also about the concerns and the legitimate interests of Ukraine and Poland, which have to be negotiated into the contracts.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Denmark on Wednesday and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is expected to be on the agenda in his talks with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod. In October, Denmark gave permission for Nord Stream 2 to be laid through its territory.